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Aggie volleyball ready to host A&M Invitational

The six-match event begins Friday, as UAlbany takes on UTSA at 3 p.m. ahead of A&M’s tournament-opener against Houston at 6 p.m.
Credit: 12th Man Athletics/Texas A&M Photos

Texas A&M volleyball proceeds with a three-match home stand on Friday and Saturday, as the Aggies welcome the Houston Cougars, UAlbany Great Danes and UTSA Roadrunners to Reed Arena for the Texas A&M Invitational.

The six-match event begins Friday, as UAlbany takes on UTSA at 3 p.m. ahead of A&M’s tournament-opener against Houston at 6 p.m. On Saturday, the Aggies will face UAlbany at 12:30 p.m. before going head-to-head with UTSA at 7:30 p.m. To view the entire schedule, fans can visit the tournament central page.

Live streaming will be available for all three of A&M’s matches, as authenticated subscribers can follow along with the SEC Network+ broadcast online or through the ESPN app. The Aggies’ evening matchups against Houston and UTSA will be called by Casey Richardson and Chelsea Reber, while the meeting between A&M and UAlbany will not feature commentary.

The Maroon & White (3-2) came out strong in their home opener earlier this week, charging past the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders. The Aggies improved to 29-1 in home-opening matches over the last 30 seasons, with the only loss coming against then-No. 6 Wisconsin in 2016. Monday’s match featured two student-athletes reaching the double-digit mark in kills, as Morgan Christon and London Austin-Roark finished with 13 and 12 smashes, respectively. Austin-Roark logged career highs in hitting percentage (.667), service aces (4) and points (17.5), while Camille Conner finished with 38 assists and Macy Carrabine led the Aggies in digs with 21.

As a team, the Aggies rank fourth in the Southeastern Conference in service aces per set (1.63) and have 31 total on the year. Eight Aggies have notched aces this season, as Austin-Roark leads the armada with nine. Additionally, A&M is third in the SEC in digs per set (15.53) with 295 team digs so far this year. The Aggie defensive back line has mustered more digs than their opponents in all five matches this season, out-digging the opposing squad by a 295-263 margin.

Houston is off to its best start under third-year head coach David Rehr, boasting a 6-0 overall record to go along with two tournament titles. Offensively, Houston is led by junior outside hitter Abbie Jackson, who has recorded double-digit kills in all six matches for a season total of 89. On the back row, sophomore libero Kate Georgiades tops the team with 4.8 digs per set. In one of A&M’s most-played matchups, the Aggies maintain a slim 32-29 advantage in an all-time series dating back to 1976. This will be the first meeting between the two teams since 2003.

Under the direction of head coach Josh Pickard, the Great Danes enter the tournament with a 3-4 overall record, most recently defeating Cornell in a four-set affair. Senior defensive specialist Charlotte Macken leads the way for UAlbany statistically, recording 111 digs in the team’s first seven matches at the libero spot, good enough for 4.11 digs per set. Macken was named the America East defensive specialist of the week on September 7. Saturday’s match will be the second between A&M and UAlbany, with the Aggies winning the only matchup in four sets in 2018.

UTSA arrives in the Brazos Valley with a 2-4 overall record that featured matches against two power-five opponents and two teams rated in the top-20 of the AVCA Coaches Poll. Directed by head coach Laura Neugebauer-Groff, the Roadrunners feature senior outside hitter Hannah Lopez, who leads the team in kills with 55 and ranks second on the team in digs with 53. The Maroon & White sit at 10-1 overall against the Roadrunners, suffering their only loss in the last meeting between the two programs in 2014.

This weekend’s tournament will be the fourth time in the last five years that the Aggies have hosted the Texas A&M Invitational with the hiatus coming in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and shortened season. The Aggies have gone 7-1 all-time during that stretch, with the team’s lone loss coming against the Missouri State Bears in 2018.